Tuesday, January 31, 2006

So What Ever Happened to Winter

Yesterday was another lovely day in Virginia, calm winds, a few clouds and a high of 68. It was a nice late spring day at the very tail end of January.

Now I understand that winter in Virginia is milder than what I experienced in Vermont and Wisconsin, but this is ridiculous. During our previous six years in the Richmond area we have had a couple of significant snowfalls (2-4 inches) each January through February. So far we have had a whole lot of rain, thunderstorms and a tornado warning. We did get some snow in December, but that’s all folks.

Meanwhile the boys, for whatever reason, had only a half day of school. So what do you do with four kids on a beautiful, warm, spring-like day? Why you go to the zoo of course! Once all their homework was done we all piled into the van. Jake, Max and Rebecca were very excited, but Nate was not. He wanted to go to the park instead of the zoo, but he was in the minority. I knew once we got there he would come around and he did.

We had a great time. All of the animals were out and the zoo was not crowded. There are some new animals such as this gibbon and her baby...

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

...and of course our old favorites the giraffes.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Nate and I discovered that the softest part of a giraffe is the fur right behind its ears.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Jake meanwhile had fun feeding them and telling us that a giraffe’s tongue is two feet long.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In fact it was so nice out that even the zoo’s population of wild turtles was out in full force.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was a great day to go to the zoo.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Time to Make the Donuts

I found this quiz that asks the all important question “What donut are you” over on Blogthings.
You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

The funny part is that it turns out that I am my favorite donut.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Patricia has tagged me for the guilty pleasures meme. Apparently I look rather innocent; I think some of my choices shall (partially) disabuse y’all of that notion.

Ground Rules: The first player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 Guilty Pleasures" and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their 5 Guilty Pleasures as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names

1. High end chocolates and none of that sugar-free low-fat junk. It’s all about the taste.
2. Truly awful science fiction B movies. Terrorvision springs to mind. MST3K was sheer heaven for me, bad movies and snarky comments.
3. Speaking of snarking, snarking on celebrities and their fashion faux-pas. I’m in no way a fashionista, but I love the Manolo and Go Fug Yourself.
4. Bad TV like South Park and Jackass. My favorite episode of Jackass involved Weeman dressed as an Oompa-Loompa and skateboarding around with the Oompa-Loompa song.
5. Cake for breakfast.

So who am I tagging? Well I guess this time it’ll be Meryl, Terry, Janis and ahhh... oh I don’t know. Any takers out there just drop a note in the comments.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Lemon Goodness

Last Friday I put Jake in a bit of a snit. To perk him up I let him pick out what dessert we would have that night for Shabbat dinner. First he requested cheesecake, but I nixed that due to lack of ingredients and time (cheesecake is much better if it is refrigerated overnight), then he asked for Lemon Squares. We had lemons and it had been quite a while since I last made them, so why not.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

They are very easy to make. The bottom crust is shortbread and on top is lemon custard. The recipe is from my very battered copy of “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book” from 1975 (Amazon has a facsimile of the 1965 that is pretty much the same as mine).
Lemon Squares
1 cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup of butter or margarine*
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice**

Heat the oven to 350 (mod.). Measure flour by dipping method (p. 5) or by sifting. Blend flour, butter, and confectioners’ sugar thoroughly. Press evenly in square pan, 8x8x2”, building up ½” edge. Bake 20 min. Beat rest of ingredients together. Pour over crust and bake 25 min. more or just until no imprint remains when touched lightly in the center. Makes 25 squares. Note: If you use self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt.

*I use butter (what a surprise)
**I use a whole lemon

They were very scrumptious and a complete bust with Nate, Max and Rebecca. But that was fine with me and Jake, it meant there was more for us.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thursday Three: Early Morning Viewing

After some prodding with a sharp stick, Terry whipped up the following bleary eyed tribute to early morning TV.

No, really--I really am kinda dense!
Another Thursday, and another Thursday in which I completely forgot about the most unforgettable, most fun, most engaging and stimulating activity ever to hit the Internets, the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

SO, bear with me as I compose something on the fly this morning. Usually in these cases, the questions turn out to be something of a smorgasbord with no central theme. (When I take time and think them up ahead of time, they are usually a smorgasbord with no central theme AND are boring.)

Here's one--our local early morning news shows are constantly doing stuff to try to get an extra viewer or two to tune in on a regular basis. As you know, I wrote one of them off after they dumped the star of the Wendy Garner Show, and so I've been wandering around trying to figure out what to watch now. Kenny Smith gave a hint last week that things might be changing over on Channel 6, and sure enough, it's ("it" being Good Day, Alabama) running from 5-9 (!) every morning now, and the two anchors who can actually read a teleprompter and who actually seem to be awake are now there from start to finish. Still not quite what I'd like to see, though.

1. What sort of early morning television show do you usually watch?

2. If you had your way and could create your very own show, what type of morning television show would you produce?

3. What sort of television programming at a local level do you think needs to be improved?

There you are, question fans! Take a moment to leave your comments below or a link to your blog, and remember the famous words of Les Nessman, "Good day, and may the good news be yours!"

1)Before kids it was the weather channel, it’s both soothing and informative. Now it is children’s semi-educational programming. Usually it is one of our two PBS stations which offer up Arthur, Postcards From Buster, Sesame Street, Dragon Tales and Caillou. I’m very proud of the fact that we remain a Barney free household. I think it is the over scripted robo-children, but I can not stand that purple dinosaur and neither can my children. If I had a choice I wouldn’t have any TV in the morning because it has a tendency to gum up the works, but we have it on for Max while he is parked on the sofa nebulizing. As a result he gets to pick what we watch. This has resulted in some odd choices. A few nights ago we were surfing through the channels for a show that is “good for kids” when we bumped into “The Road to Freedom: The Vernon Johns Story.” I had paused because James Earl Jones was onscreen and pointed out that he was the voice of Darth Vader. After that there was no changing the channel. Max declared that the program was “kinda like Star Wars” and he wanted to watch.

2)Oh I don’t know, for grownups maybe a mix of traffic, weather and any special events of the day. It would be a bit repetitive, but useful for people that just want to quickly tune in and get some quick information. For the under 10 set I’m happy with my two PBS stations and what they offer in the morning.

3)It would be nice if a portion of the local news was dedicated to informing the viewers of local events and happenings in a more cohesive manner. Maybe the last five minutes could be dedicated to a nice rundown of what is happening during the following week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Henry died last night. He was a sweet little puppy. We saw him last September along with the rest of his siblings. The kids had a wonderful time as did the puppies.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I’m not sure which puppy is which in the pictures I took, but that could be Henry on his back next to Nate.

I had spoken to Diane earlier in the week and she had noticed that Henry seemed a bit off. Yesterday he took a turn for the worse and she took him to the vet. They put in an IV and he seemed to rally at first when he saw a little boy, but then he crashed. They would bring him back, but then he would crash again. It finally hit the point where they could keep him going, but at a terrible price. So the decision was made to let Henry join his Momma Fiona at the Bridge.

He wasn't my puppy, but I was part of his creation. He was a sweet and loving little pup who was very much loved.

It was just one of those freaky things that just happen.

Go in peace little one, it is just not fair that your life was cut so short.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Rebecca has a new favorite game. She likes to scare people or be scared. Ideally both occur at the same time.

Now I’m not talking about trying to terrify anyone with the accompanying shrieks or all out cries horror. I’m talking about the gentle little way a four year old likes to say boo.

She walks up to you with her dark eyes dancing in glee and a little smile playing about her face. If you are not paying attention, she ever so gently taps you on your forearm until you look her way. She leans in close, purses her lips and says “Boo!”

She then pulls back and awaits your reaction. She likes it when I wave my hands and say “Aaah! You scared me!” Then it is your turn or she will scare you again.

She loves it when I say boo at the exact same time. Then we both get to shriek and wave our hands. She then spins about with her little feet dancing as she waves her hands in mock terror.

It is so much fun to be four.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Jaws of Destruction Revisited

John is growing up to be a very handsome boy.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

My current dilemma is whether I bring him or his father to the national specialty in April. I can’t bring both because I’ll be sharing a room with a very good friend and her female dog. Two intact male dogs plus one intact female dog equals a dogfight. Right now the red boys get along, but I know that this would be too much. John is a teenager, all raging hormones and Crunch is very dominant and likes to remind John on a regular basis that he is the big dog. Anyway, John continues to chew anything he can get in his mouth and is still the Jaws of Destruction.

A couple of days ago we had a little incident with the Jaws of Destruction. Remember that cute mouse Max got for Hanukkah? Here is a cropped version of the picture:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

You can see in the picture how much he loves his mouse.

Sadly, John loves mouse too.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

By the time I found it, one leg was completely missing, one foot was ripped off and the ears were chewed down to little nubs.

The mouse was very clearly dead. There was absolutely no way I could resurrect it. The missing pieces had completely disappeared. Max burst into tears when I told him that mouse was dead. He was devastated and pleaded with me to get him another mouse. After a long talk about not leaving mouse downstairs I relented. So on Friday we picked up a new mouse. Before we entered the store Rebecca announced that she wanted a new pegasus (John had gnawed off an ear) and I agreed.

The store had a bunch of mice, but there was no pegasus. Rebecca did find a pink and purple dragon and she glommed onto that. As we went through the store Rebecca chattered away about her new toy and how they didn’t have pegasus, but when they did she would get a new one.

Whoa, I didn’t agree to that.

I stopped, squatted down to her height and told her she could have the dragon now or she could wait and get a new peasus later.

This stopped her cold. She thought for a bit and told me she wanted the pegasus. She then helped me put the dragon back on the display rack.

I was amazed at how well she handled it. She was very calm and never looked back.

My little girl is growing up.

Oh and John, he had one night of feeling simply awful and urped up little bits of chewed up toy. Of course it was all over the rug and not the hardwood floors. Thankfully I have a small carpet cleaning machine and put it to good use. The next day John was back to his bouncy old self.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I am batman

And once in awhile I’m Wonder Woman.

A few days ago Larry told me that he took a superhero personality quiz. According to the quiz he took he is Spiderman. This was very amusing for us since Max is a HUGE fan of the web slinger. I was intrigued (Hooray! Blog filler!) And I asked Larry to give me the url.

He couldn’t remember where he had bumped into so he did a quick Google search for superhero quizzes. Turns out there are pages of these things

After a little investigation he found the quiz he took, sent me the url and three others.

It turns out that I’m Batman 75% of the time and Wonder Woman the other 25%.

I guess it’s my love of gadgets that stuck me in the Batman column.

Anyhow here are the results:

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com


Congratulations! You scored a super 69%!

Cool, calm and powerful. Whilst your actual super abilities may not be anything too dazzling, you have earnt the respect of both friends and enemies in response to your amazing fighting skills, strategic combat and experience.

Luckily you have access to the greens which can fund all your majorly cool gadgets, vehicles and weapons! Also, you're reluctant but still accepting to the idea of having a teammate/side-kick, which just makes everything a whole lotta fun, doesn't it now!

On the down side, you've probably suffered some sort of trauma at a young age (that's why we don't talk to the old man near the swings, kids).

Similar to the Wolverine, your past is a base for your current motivation, undertaking some kind of personal vow in search of justice. All in all though, you're one tough nut. There's not a lot of people who have the minerals to go up against you, and you're experienced enough not to get cocky and let the little things like never finding happiness get you down!

Link: The Which SUPER HERO are you Test written by crayzee69 on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

You are Batman! You are damned cool. Too bad
nobody's around to enjoy it. You creeped them
all out. You are so intense that no one can
compete, so they get out of your way. Don't
get me wrong, we all look up to you, but kinda
how we look up at God. With fear and from far
far away.

Which Superhero Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Friday, January 20, 2006

Of Harry Potter and Yummy Cow

Last Sunday Meryl came over to watch the kids so that Larry and I could see The Goblet of Fire in the afternoon. Part of the inducement, other than spending time with my very quiet and angelic children, was that we would feed her dinner. Our traditional Aunt Meryl dinner is flank steak and roasted potatoes. Mmmm, yummy cow. Just thinking about it makes me hungry.

Anyway, when she arrived I was just getting the potatoes started. I like to cut up the potatoes into bite sized pieces and then boil them for 10 minutes before roasting. Once they are parboiled, I drain the pot, drizzle in some olive oil and season the potatoes with salt, pepper and a little garlic or onion powder. I shake the mess up in the pot and then dump it into the roasting pan. The potatoes are then roasted for about an hour at 375. They come out all lovely and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Since the movie is long and it was a bit early we decided I would put the potatoes in the fridge and she would put them in the oven about an hour and a half before we were due back. Meanwhile the steak was already marinating in the fridge. Cooking it would take no time at all.

The marinade is one that I got from my mother and is delicious. It is as follows:
½ cup of soy sauce
¼ cup of brandy/cognac
1 tsp curry (sometimes I use more)
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sugar
3-4 crushed cloves of garlic
The steak should marinade for at least 45 minutes, but longer is better.

Once the taters were done and Max’s thumpies were finished Larry and I left for the movie theater.

We got to the theater at 2 minutes past the start time (oops, my fault, but I really wanted to get Max all set). There was a huge line snaking up to the window, but that did not faze us. We have learned to use the automated kiosk that is on the far right side. Surprisingly that too had a line, albeit a much shorter one, but a line none the less. I remembered that there was another kiosk inside the theater and we moved on. Inside there were two groups in the line for the kiosk. Shortly after we joined them the first group collected their tickets and moved away. That just left the two teenage girls, all tarted up, and what looked to be a slightly younger brother of one of the girls. They were fairly quick, but they were quite odd after they finished their transaction. They just moved a little forward and just stood there staring up at the movie listings. I shook my head and turned my attention to my husband and the touch screen. He quickly moved through all the options and had just selected the movie. At the next screen we were informed that the movie was sold out.

Whaaaaaat?! The movie has been out for over a month and it was sold out?

We then canceled the transaction and moved away from the kiosk and stood there staring at the movie listings.

Ahhh! I bet the three teenagers in front of us had been planning to see Goblet of Fire too!

We hemmed and hawed for a bit, but there really wasn’t anything else we wanted to see.

Now what do we do? We couldn’t think of any other thing to do. I ducked back in to use the bathroom and we then headed homewards.
Everybody was very surprised to see us so early.

In end it was fine. Dinner got to be served at the usual time and we had a lovely visit with Meryl. We decided that we would see the movie at a later date at the IMAX Theater.

Oh and of course I made a cake. It was an orange cake with orange filling and chocolate frosting. The funny part was that as I was frosting the cake I would park it outside to set the frosting. When it is below 45 outside I view the deck as a giant walk-in fridge. This completely rocked Max’s world. Cakes belong on the table or in the fridge, not outside. He spent the whole time the cake was outside with his face pressed against the door’s window. He even went as far as to get a little stool to sit on. He would be periodically joined by his siblings, but it was his vigil. Meryl took some pictures. When she sends them on over I’ll post them.

Update: Meryl has posted a picture over at her site.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday Three Protest!

This week Terry is all agitated. Must be the weather, or something, anyway Papa Possum posts the following:

Silly old work, among other things. But that’s okay, because it DOES give me a nice little hook for this week’s Protest Edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

The questions this week have been sent from that hotbed of campus protest, East Carolina U, by one of those agitating academics, Dr. Jim.

For some reason, Jimbo seemed to have been in a cranky mood last week when he sent these in. I hope for the sake of the contest, he’s still cranky. Or that all of you are. Or were at some time in your checkered past.

ANYway, enough of that. Take a moment and answer these three questions:
1. Have you ever been involved in a protest?
2. Have you been an active member of a political party and campaign?
3. What was the big movement of your generation?

SO, either leave a comment below OR a link to the answers on your blog. That is, if you dare, given the chilling winds of Rovian dissent-stifling that has cloaked our nation in a wet, smelly blanket of fear and trepidation brought on by the reckless cowboy imperialism of King Chimpy McHitlerburton. (Thankfully, I do have some organic aluminum foil available if you’d like to make yourself a mind control ray deflector for your head.) ANYway, answer those, and let’s see what’s what.
Hmm, what? Oh it’s my cue.

Here is my response to all that aggitating:

1)I have gone to one rally in Washington DC. It was while I was in college and it was a Pro-choice/women’s rights thingy. That and I joined a committee that protested the abysmal state of my college’s food service. My mother didn’t believe me when I said the food was bad. She changed her mind though, when she visited me on parent’s weekend. She was shocked that they couldn’t improve things to barely tolerable for when the parents came to visit. The nadir was when I was in line and the cafeteria lady wanted to know what I wanted. I asked her what it was and she replied “smothered bohemian chicken” and proceeded to lift a ladle filled with a pale mushy substance. I watched in horror as the “chicken meat” slid off the spoon and its bones back into the slop below. I replied “I don’t want to know how it was killed or its lifestyle, no thank you.” Generally I’m fairly apathetic, unless it involves asinine anti-(dog) breeder legislation. Then I call up my representative and lodge a complaint about the bill in question.

2)I have never been an active (or inactive) member of a political party or campaign. I am pretty much a libertarian in my views and that is the main reason I went to the rally in DC. I don’t want the government legislating or interfering in my personal affairs. If you want to have a ton of kids fine, if you don’t want any kids fine. Just don’t expect me to pay for it and if you do have kids you must love them and care for them. However I do vote. I am very conscientious of my duty as a citizen to vote.

3)I can’t think of any one movement defining my generation except apathy. I remember in college how we were kind of proud of our apathy. Electric Boat is literally across the Thames River from our campus. The only thing obstructing our view was the Coast Guard Academy. Up the river was also the Naval Submarine Base. There never was a protest about EB or at NSB when I was in college. In fact, we were proud of that our campus, being the highest point in the area, was ground zero for a nuclear attack by the USSR. As a result the campus radio station referred to itself as ground zero radio. I must note here that it was very cool watching them build the nuclear subs. Once when I was driving along the river in my VW one of those babies surfaced right next to me. Dang was it big! I swear I could have parked a couple of cars on the conning tower. I have never felt so small or insignificant before or since.

Oh and Terry, I'd like some jerky with my home version of the game.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Artist of the Week: A Penguin Adventure

This week’s artist is Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Last week Nate brought home a little booklet that he made at school called “A Penguin Adventure.”

Each page features a cute little line drawing of a penguin and a question asking what the penguin sees at a particular spot. The assignment was that the student draws a picture in the appropriate spot and fills in the blank “Penguin sees______.”

On the first page Nate drew a General Grievous game controller and a TV set on the sled.

It is a very reasonable item. What Penguin wouldn’t want a plug and play TV game to while away the long Antarctic night?

On the Next picture Nate’s sense of humor starts to show.

Here we have a very menacing shark and a deceased fish under the water. I think the penguin should hold off going into the water for a bit.

Now we have the penguin peeking into an igloo.

Oh my! There is a very dangerous scorpion waving its claws about, note the rather Punisher-like skull over the scorpion. Nate said he drew the skull to show that the scorpion was poisonous. Oddly the penguin seems unconcerned and seems to be waving at the scorpion.

The next page is one of my favorites. Here we have a happy penguin waving at a snow penguin, oblivious to the danger overhead.

Nate has a crashing jet right above the penguin. I hope the penguin gets out of the way when it sees the jet.

On the last page it looks like the penguin has avoided the crashing jet.

Instead a low flying plane is right behind the penguin. I don’t know if the penguin ever saw the plane, Nate didn’t fill in the blank. I hope it is just because he ran out of time in class.

Either way, I think the penguin needs to move to a safer location.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Fifth and Sixth Nights Plus a Little More

Here are the promised pictures of the fifth and sixth nights of Hanukkah.
First off here is the fifth night:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I almost forgot to take this one. I just got to the menorah in time. If I had waited any longer the candles would have been all gone.

Now for the sixth night of Hanukkah:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In this picture Nate is holding onto the shamash and lighting the candles with Grandpa by his side. Larry took this picture and I really like how it came out. Meanwhile, I was upstairs passed out from my cold and I missed out on all the fun.

Sadly we did not take any pictures of the seventh night, I was still under the weather and we all forgot to bring out the camera.

Before I got struck down by the cold I-thought-was-strep-but-wasn’t, Larry and I meet up with his half sister and took Max and Rebecca to the aquarium (Jake and Nate went with Grandma and Grandpa to see the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Max and Rebecca went to the aquarium last summer with Grandma and it was a big hit, Max was particularly taken with the sea turtles. I like it too and Larry has never been to this one.

It was jammed. It wasn’t nearly as much fun when we went last August, but the kids had a good time. Max was a little disappointed that the turtles were not swimming about, but he did enjoy posing behind the fake turtle shell.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I tried taking one of Rebecca, but the photo did not come out. So instead I’ll treat you to this very cute (but slightly unfocused) picture.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yes, that is the hat. It actually took a few days for her to get over her dislike of the hat, but she did come around. She wore it all throughout the aquarium. It made it very easy for us to pick her out of the crowd.

So there you go, a wrap up to our northern adventures.

Monday, January 16, 2006



Eek! I have been tagged! I have seen this one floating about and Patricia tagged me. So here we go with my take on Fours.

Four Jobs I've Had:
1. Waitress (toughest job I’ve ever had)
2. Florist, sales and delivery (I loved doing the deliveries)
3. Exercised horses for the lady across the street (not paid, but very cool)
4. Lab technician (my last paying gig)

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:
1. Harvey (first movie I ever bought)
2. The Incredibles (No capes!)
3. The Producers (the original of course)
4. Evil Dead II (haven’t seen it in a while, but I do love it)

Four Places I've Lived:
1. New London, Connecticut (Home to the Hygienic restaurant, which wasn’t in my time)
2. Branford, Connecticut (First place after I moved away from home)
3. Madison, Wisconsin (Great city)
4. East Brandywine, Pennsylvania (The Blob was filmed near here)

Four T.V. Shows I Watch:
1. CSI: Miami (beautiful dead bodies in bikinis)
2. Numb3rs (FBI and geeks)
3. Avatar: The Last Airbender (The whole family loves this one)
4. The Red Green Show (When I can find it)

Four Places I've Been on Vacation:
1. Curacao (Honeymoon)
2. Deerfield Beach, Florida (Gorgeous public beach)
3. Leningrad, USSR (Beautiful city, Moscow was so drab)
4. Gallatin National Forest (The last big vacation before kids)

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
1. Meryl
2. Terry
3. Woulda Coulda Shoulda
4. The rest of my blog roll

Four Favorite Foods:
1. Chocolate
2. Yummy cow (steak)
3. Curry
4. Scallops

Four Places I'd Like to Be Right Now:
1. Curacao
2. Vermont
3. England
4. Australia

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:
1. Y
2. O
3. U
4. !

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Now That's Just Wrong

Just over nine years ago we moved away from Wisconsin, which is located on the north eastern edge of tornado alley. I remember hearing the tornado sirens being tested during the summer months. Tornado season generally lasted from about May to November.

I remember the first few times we heard the sirens go off, Larry and I would huddle down in the basement with our portable radio until the all clear had been sounded. After a few years we became a bit more blasé about the whole thing.

When we left Wisconsin I cried the day we pulled away from our house for the last time. Part of it was the onslaught of new mother hormones (Jake was just 6 weeks old), but I had also come to love the Midwest. I had a great job and lots of friends that I was leaving behind. But one thing I was not going to miss was the weather. I can’t stand the shear unpredictability of tornados.

Fast forward to last Friday night. As I was puttering about late that night a huge, rip-snorting thunderstorm cut loose. I was stunned by the lighting strikes, great brilliant flashes that lit the whole yard. I had the TV on and after a while the show was interrupted by the breathless announcement of a tornado warning.


It’s freaking January. I know it has been unusually warm, but a tornado warning?

I was offended enough by the thunderstorm. Growing up in the northeast, I never had encountered a thunderstorm in January. The addition of the tornado warning was just plain wrong.

And the capper to all this, the wind gusts blew the tarp right off of the shed. Our poor, beautifully roof papered shed with just one course of shingles. When the thunderstorm/tornado moved on I ran out and recovered the shed. It was going to rain all night. Fortunately we had used the pricier paper and it survived the deluge and the interior of the shed had remained dry.

So what I want to know is when is it going to be winter?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hey it's Lee-Jackson Day!

Well this weekend it looks like it will be festival of the shed. Today in the Commonwealth of Virginia it is Lee-Jackson day and Larry was able to take the day off.

As an interesting side note, there was for a brief period in Virginia the bizarre conglomeration of a Lee-Jackson-King Day. At one point, in Virginia, King Day was observed on New Years day. The Lee-Jackson holiday has been observed since 1904 on the third Monday in January. The federal declaration of MLK Day created the conflict of the two holidays as they both fell on the same day. In 2000 the two holidays were separated by moving the Lee-Jackson day forward three days to the Friday beforehand.

Larry’s comment about the holiday was to dryly observe that it was to celebrate his confederate heritage, pretty funny coming from a Yankee transplant.

So instead of staggering about in some mucky field we will instead shingle the shed. So far we have gotten the starter course up on both sides and the first course up on one. The shingles are a bear to cut. I think I need to get a better tool for the job, but I think this one is a little more in our price range.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thursday Three: Boring!

Today Terry showcases a slate of questions to show how dull and boring we all are.

Well, it’s a good thing YOU’RE excited, because these questions have been designed to suck all the exhilaration right out of the entire Internets!

To get right to it, then: Think about where you work, whether it’s in an office or factory or your own home, and tell us--

1) What sorts of activities that you have to do in your normal everyday life that are so mind-numbingly boring that you could just scream, if you cared enough?

2) Although you might think YOUR boring thing is the most boringestest thing of all, what do you see OTHER people doing around your workplace that causes you to think maybe you don’t have it quite so bad after all?

3) Conversely, what sorts of things do you see other people getting to do in their daily tasks that you think would be SO COOL if you could do them?

Now then, either leave your answers below in the comments, OR answer them on your online personal journal, which some people call a “web log,” or “blog” for short.

Hmmm, I’m going to answer this two ways; before kids, when I was gainfully employed and now.
1.)When I was earning a paycheck it would be when I had to feed the cell stocks. Two times a week and it was boring. Occasionally I would have the excitement of finding something contaminated, but that was rare. I was very good at maintaining the tissue cells in culture and I successfully kept one line in continuous culture for over a year without contamination. We had a little birthday party for it.

Nowadays it would be doctors’ appointments for the kids. With four kids and one having CF I spend a lot of time shuttling people to the doctors’ office. The regular pediatrician isn’t so bad. I’ve learn to avoid the place on Mondays and Saturdays. On average we end up waiting about 30 minutes in the waiting room and another 10 in the exam room. The CF clinic at MCV is another story. We had a record breaking appointment yesterday. I spent 2 hours in the waiting room and another 45 minutes in the exam room. Mind you this was with two restive four year olds. It was hideously boring. At least the staff was very apologetic. All of the doctors ducked their heads in shame and apologized for the delay. Personally I think they need to reevaluate there scheduling and hire more doctors.

2.)In the old days it would have been Pat’s job. She made up all sorts of sterile solutions for the various research labs at Yale. She had minimal human contact and her office/lab was in the basement and had no widows. Apparently she could be difficult, but she liked me. I was always polite and I made sure that my bottles were clean (some idiots would bring her dirty bottles to fill with sterile solutions).

Today it would be parents that spend all their time chauffeuring their children from one activity to another. I gripe about soccer practice, but some kids have multiple after and before school activities. All that time spent in the car and waiting for the little darling to finish. I have a policy of one sport at a time and we are trying to avoid the more time consuming ones (i.e. hockey and skating).

3.)The coolest job, why that would be ... Lion Tamer!
Actually I was happy as my job as a lab tech and I do love being a mother. A really cool job would be one that lets me putter about and actually get paid to raise my children.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Remember That Shed We're Building?

When we last left off Larry and I gotten the walls up.

And then we had a bit of a break. Between birthdays, holidays and various people being sick we did not get a whole lot done. Just before we left for out epic trip up north Larry and I found the time and energy to put up the rafters and the roof deck.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Now that really looks like a shed.

It was a bear to wrestle the big panels up, position them and nail them in place. It might have even been harder than getting the walls up. But we got the job done. Since we were not going to be shingling the shed until after the start of the New Year, we decided to put a tarp on the shed.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This would protect the roof deck and I could now use the shed. Before we left I stuffed all sorts of toys and junk strewn about the yard into the shed.

Yesterday (Monday) Larry stayed home from work so that we could do a little more work on the shed.

He went off and got the shangles (Yes they are shangles, not shingles. Our fancy pants subdivision covenants specify what roofing materials we can use. We have a choice of Certainteed shangles, Hendrix tile, imitation slate and cedar shakes/shingles.), roofing felt and nails. I had bought the drip edge on Sunday when I was getting my plumbing supplies.

The weather was perfect. The temperature was in the 60’s (!), sunny with a steady breeze. Since the shed in the woods and our property is naturally protected on windy days, the breeze presented no problems for us. The roof deck was nice and dry when I unveiled it. I was able to install the drip edge on the eaves and lay out the roofing felt. Larry than got up on the roof and nailed down the felt.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The felt is a much better surface to work on than the deck itself. It was very slippery when Larry had to put in the upper nails of the roof deck. On the felt he could sit in place and not slide off the roof. This made me feel much better about our shingling the shed ourselves.

We were not able to get any shingling done yesterday, but if you look carefully in the picture above you can see them in the shed. It is nice that we can now store our building materials in the shed.

In the meantime there are all sorts of finishing touches I can do before we do the shingling.

Monday, January 09, 2006

More Plumbing with Sarah

Sunday I was quite a busy beaver. I went out and got some building supplies for the shed, a new toilet seat for the kid’s bathroom and a cartridge for the tub facet.

The faucet had been leaking for a while. Originally it was just a slow drip, but it had been worsening (as these things are want to do) over time. For a while if I banged on the handle the drip would stop and then that stopped being effective. Finally, the drip turned into a stream and I realized I had to do something. Admittedly I procrastinate, but I was loath to do this job because I did not have ready access to the shut off valves to the tub. The tub’s fixtures abut our linen closet, but the builder did not provide a knock-out panel. I could cut into the back wall of the closet, but I don’t like cutting blind into a wall. Instead I shut off the main water supply valve to the house. This meant I had to go to the far corner of the crawl space under the house.

Most of the crawl space is fairly reasonable and it is possible to walk about with only ducking your head. But the dirt floor rises towards the far corner and you have to scuttle about, twisting by pipes and low hanging phone wires.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Once the water was shut off I tromped back upstairs to fix the faucet.

I tried to get a picture of the drippy faucet, but the water drips wouldn’t show up, so you’ll just have to believe me on this one.

I popped off the cap and removed the faucet handle.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The cartridge was a bit tricky, but the manufacturer did supply a handy tool. Once the cartridge was out I was free to pop in the new one. This proved to be tricky. The little piece that holds it in place would not go back in. It took a fair about of wiggling and repositioning until both sides of the pin slid into place. Finally it went in and I was able to put the handle back on.

Then I trudged back to under the house and turned the water back on. Sucess! Now we have a nice drip free faucet.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The toilet seat was a bonus. I figured since everything else was getting fixed up it was time to replace it as well. It was getting chipped and had odd bumps on the surface. The bathroom now looks 100 % better.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thoughts from Saturday Morning

I like eggnog. I like it a lot, but not enough to make my own (I don’t do raw eggs). I am very happy with the non-alcoholic version, so as a result I look forward to this time of year when I can pick up my favorite brand at the grocery store.

On Saturday morning I was sipping on my eggnog and cooking up pancakes. When I put down my glass next to the bowl full of batter I noticed something interesting. (I just want to say here that it is amazing how you can find pictures of almost everything on the web.) Except for the flakes of nutmeg, they look almost identical. I called Larry over and he agreed. The only other difference was that the batter was significantly thicker than the drink. We decided to try a little of the eggnog in the pan. It was, as I thought, too thin and rapidly boiled away with little spits and bubbles into a smudge of caramelized paste. I scraped it up and had a little taste. Meh, it warm, solidified eggnog, not horrible, but not worth repeating. It probably would work *in* the batter and would result in eggnog flavored pancakes. However, I won’t try it because I like my pancakes plain and slathered with butter.

So be careful, cook the batter and drink the eggnog. I am happy to report that I did not drink any batter.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wintertime Fun

As y’all have probably figured out by now we went north to go visit family for the holidays.

My mom lives in Vermont and we are pretty much guaranteed to get a nice taste of winter when we go visit. This year was not an exception, but it was a close thing with the rain and warm temperatures (40’s at Christmas time, how absurd). There was a good 4-6 inches of wet snow in her backyard. The kids had a blast making snowman, knocking them over and having snowball fights. It wasn’t until Monday that we went sledding.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The town park is just a few houses down from my mother’s and there is a nice sidewalk to take us there. The park is at the bottom of a small valley formed by a brook that extends to behind my mom's property. As a result it is a flood plain that has sensibly been turned into a park with a playground and all sorts of playing fields. To reach the park you have to descend a fairly steep hill down to the flood plain. In the winter the hill makes for some spectacular sledding.

On Monday we all trooped over to the park. It was warm (the aforementioned 40’s) and the snow was soft and slushy. The sledding was fun, but a bit wet. The bulk of the hill had a large slushy puddle at the base. It was fun to zip through the puddle and send up a large wave of slushy water, but you ran the risk of getting soaked and possibly stranded in the puddle. We elected to stay near the staircase on its East side. There were various hazards on that side, but they were easily avoided and there was no puddle. We stayed out for about an hour before hunger called us in for lunch.

On Monday night the temperature dropped and the snow solidified. As a result sledding was spectacular on Tuesday and Wednesday. The sled runs were fast and the puddle had frozen over. With a good push you could rocket down the hill and almost across the field.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Somebody had built a small jump and Nate had a glorious time jumping his sled. For Hanukkah we gave him a shirt that said “I do my own stunts” which was really appropriate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here you see Nate just before he gets on the sled and during mid-jump. This one wasn’t quite as good as the other jumps because you can see he is about to tip over.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In this photo you get to see the handy staircase on the hill. I must say it made tramping up the slippery slope much easier.

Near the end of our sledding session on Wednesday we also went to take a look at the playground and the brook. The playground was a bit lame in the snow, but the brook was beautiful.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As an added bonus I took the kids to a footbridge that crossed the brook.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It gave me the heebie-jeebies crossing it in the snow, but it was fun. Quite a contrast to the river and bridge that Terry featured over at his blog!

After all of our fun and excitment down by the brook we did a few more runs and headed back to my Mom’s house.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Mom’s new house is turning out to be grandchild heaven.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thursday Three: the Forgotten

Hey it’s Thursday and that means it is time for the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three! Today Terry has provided us with a fresh and exciting slate of questions to start off the New Year. And here we g...

Oh, it appears our fearless leader has been a bit distracted and instead he presents us with the following:
But, I forgot it was Thursday. Which means today’s Axis of Weevil Thursday Three will start the New Year off in tepid fashion with a Slapdashed-Together Edition of America’s Favorite Online Questionnaire!

Scrounging around through my desk drawer and underneath the file cabinet, I found some vowels and consonants, which I have skillfully assembled using a nearly dried-out glue stick and a twist tie to come up with these questions. We ask that you use caution as you answer them, because the glue isn’t really sticking things together all that well.

ANYway, here we go:

1) What is the most important thing you ever forgot to do?
2) Do you try to keep yourself organized through a routine so you don’t have to rely so much on remembering things, or do you follow a more open approach based on what you want to get done during the day and try to actually think things through?
3) What do you have the most trouble remembering--people’s names, how to get places, or important dates?

Okeedoke--all of you go off and answer! Either leave your answers in the comments below, or leave a link to your blog post.

1) Hmmm, the most important thing I have ever forgotten to do. Well there have been a variety of cooking mishaps were I have forgotten to add an ingredient or spaced out and left something in the oven too long. I think the worst was when I was about 13 or so and I was boiling up a couple of hotdogs for me and my brother for lunch. We went outside to play for a bit and we both completely forgot about them. We came back in an hour later to find one extremely hot pot with two shriveled up and blackened bits of former hotdogs annealed to the bottom of the said pot. It took a lot of elbow grease to clean out that pot. I have in recent years spaced out on appointments and such and one time I sat down for a moment to rest for a bit and fell asleep on the couch. I slept through meeting the Jake at the bus stop and was only waked when my neighbor called. It turns out that the he had walked to the house (maybe 200 ft from the bus stop) found the doors locked and then went across the street to our neighbors. I felt horrible. I rushed over to collect my boy and profusely apologized to him. In my defense though I was caring for twin infants at the time and was a bit of a zombie.

2)Routines and schedules help me get things done. I’m much better at keeping on top of things if I have a regular rhythm to my day and/or week. Subsequently everything goes to pot when we are on vacation. Thinking things out can be a baaaaad idea, that’s how I get sidetracked.

3)I’m horrible with people’s names. I can be formally introduced to someone at an event and 15 minutes later I’ll have no clue what about their name. Cocktail parties are the worst. I’m deaf in one ear and I get a bit overwhelmed by the background noise. The result is that I have a hard time hearing people around me and I might not properly “catch” their name before they move on. Dog shows are equally noisy and again I might miss the introduction. The sad thing is I can often remember the names of all their dogs. However, this is a common problem in the dogshow world and dog people are a little more forgiving and understanding.

So thus ends this week’s less than memorable answers to the Thursday Three.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Artist of the week: Special Holidays Edition

This week’s artists are all four of my brood.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As I mentioned earlier the kids made most of the decorations to my mother’s Christmas tree. I say most because a few blown glass ones did find their way onto the tree.

Anywho, they did a bang of job of making paper chains, pictures, dangly bead things and more. I supervised them and helped by tying knots and getting the glue to go in the right place. The rest was up to them. They even hung their finished projects on the tree.

On the last day of Hanukkah they decorated cookies (scroll down to the party pack) with food coloring markers. Nate had gotten this from his teacher. It turns out Mrs. H is also Jewish and she had received this and had passed it on to Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The kids had a great deal of fun coloring their cookies. What could be better than using markers on cookies? Especially when the markers are filled with food coloring and the cookies are still safe to eat! The cookies themselves were a bit blah, which may have been due to the fact that they were dragged up and down the Eastern seaboard. Max’s mouth turned green from his scribbled cookie, but that was it for mess. I will be saving the markers to use again. Maybe I’ll get motivated and we’ll make some gingerbread cookies that I could ice. Mmmmm gingerbread.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Most Evil Gift in the World

Or the best, it really depends upon your perspective and age.

I love my brother. He is a very sweet guy who gives thoughtful gifts and really knows what his niece and nephews would like to get for Christmas, but this year, oh my. From Max’s perspective he knocked this one right out of the ball park with the bases loaded. For me it is more like watching two infielders crashing together that results in nobody catching an easy pop-fly and allowing the other team score the winning run.

And what, you may ask, could this gift be.

Just scroll on down and then you will see.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yes it is a drum kit. It is a real, fully functional, four year old size drum kit that comes complete with drum sticks and a seat.

All four children love it. They would periodically sit down and flail away when ever the mood struck them. This was very often on the first day and tapered down to every couple of hours on the last day of our stay at my mother’s house. Fortunately each drum solo would only be a few minutes long. Five minutes seemed to be about average.

The kit held up fairly well and only one drum head sustained a tear which was easily patched with packing tape (not the best solution, but it worked). It was the mid-sized drum on Max’s right. Since all four of our children are right handed, it probably got the most abuse.

Now I will admit that my brother did give me a heads up. If I had wanted, I’m sure I could have gotten him to take it back, but then I would have felt like a total kill joy. Instead I decided to just let it be. On the upside I’ve noticed that the drumming has gotten a bit more musical as the kids play with the kit. We did bring it back home with us and it is currently in Max and Rebecca’s bedroom. Max has only played with it a few times since we have gotten back and the sound level is fairly reasonable.

Now if it had been one of those awful Bratz/Hos-in-training dolls I would have deep-sixed it without a millisecond of remorse.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Eighth Day Home Again and an Explanation

We are home now. This is one of our menorahs and my favorite.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is titled “The Synagogues of Europe” Hannukia and was created by Maude Weisser in loving memory of lost communities. It came with a little booklet and I will reprint it here in verbatim.

Artist Maude Weisser is proud to introduce her “Synagogues of Europe” Hannukia. Inspired by the long history and great struggles of European Jewry, as well as the architectural beauty of these old Synagogues; this Hannukia is sure to become a collector’s heirloom.

“The Synagogue” has always been central to the observance and expression of the Jewish faith. It is also one of Judaism’s great legacies to mankind giving inspiration to the development of both the Church and the Mosque. The Synagogue functioned not only as a house of worship, but was the hub of Jewish community life and the central pillar from which the Jews derived their faith, strength and sheer will to survive.

The Synagogues chosen for this Hannukia reflect the great diversity of architectural styles employed by the Jews of the Diaspora in their respective lands. Each community was influenced by the unique styles of the particular country or city in which they were located. However, underlying these surface differences is the unity and strength of the Jewish faith, common to Jewish communities the world over.

1.) Prague, Czechoslovakia: The Altneuschul or “Old-New Synagogue” (c. 1280) is perhaps the most famous and oldest European Synagogue still in use. Located in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, the facade of this building is unusually impressive for its’ time. The gothic atmosphere of the Synagogue inspired many legends, including the story of Judah Loew, a 17th century rabbi who is said to have created “The Golem” here, a mechanical monster designed to save the Jews of Prague from oppression.

2.) Toledo, Spain: Santa Maria La Blanca Synagogue (c. 1200), this is the oldest of the Toledo Synagogues, a city which was home to a Jewish population of some 15,000. The Christian sounding name, “St. Mary the White” is the name of the convent for repentant women into which this synagogue was converted in the 16th c. The building was confiscated from the Jewish community in the early 15th c. by an angry mob of Anti-Semites. Although the exterior is rather plain and simple, the interior is very lavish and adorned in Moorish style.

3.) Dubronik, Yugoslavia: The Dubrovnik Synagogue was built in the 17th c. on the second story of a narrow ancient building in the Jewish section of the city. The architecture is that of a typical small Sephardi Synagogue and can be attributed to the influence of refugees from Spain and Portugal who arrived in this Eastern European community at the end of the 15th century. The Torah scrolls, which survived the Nazis during World War II were brought from Spain in 1492.

4.) Cracow, Poland: The Rema Synagogue (c. 1550) was one of the first Polish Synagogues built in the Renaissance style. It was burned by the Nazis but reconstructed after the war. This Synagogue was built by the father of the great rabbinical authority, Moses Isserles (The Rema), in honor of his son. It is one of a number of Polish “Family Synagogues” which were built by wealthy men and intended for use by a limited group of worshippers from the founding family.

5.) Vilna, Poland: This gate is located at the entrance to the shulhof on Jews’ Street, in the Jewish Quarter of Vilna. This section of the city housed over 20 Synagogues and was the focus of Jewish community life in the city.

6.) Lutsk, Poland: The Lutsk Fortress Synagogue (c. 1626) like many synagogues throughout Poland was designed to be defended in case of need. The so-called “Fortress Synagogues” were built in monumental scale with thick walls and a parapet which was used not only as a look-out but for active military defense if called for. It was built with loop holes for housing cannons and guns. The tower also served as a look-out in times of emergency but otherwise it was used as a jail for petty criminals. At this time it was common for Synagogues to have cells in their vestibules or cellars to imprison minor criminals.

7.) Zabludow, Poland: The Zabludow Synagogue (c. 1756) was a wooden Synagogue built in the style of the wooden Synagogue in Wolpa. The Wooden Synagogue was an original Polish building style. Timber, usually pine but also oak was in ample supply in the Polish forests and wood was easy and familiar for the Polish builders to work with. Smaller rural communities were unable to afford stone masonry work and wood became the material of choice for these congregations. However, these wooden Synagogues were very vulnerable to fire and wood rot and thus very few survived up until W.W. II. At the outbreak of the War only 100 wooden Synagogues were still in existence and the Nazis destroyed them all.

8.) Budapest, Hungary: The Synagogue in Obuda, built in 1820-21 was designed in the neo-classical style with a clock on the front facade. It was considered the outstanding Synagogue of the Hapsburg Empire in the early 19th century. Although the building still exists today, it is no longer used as a Synagogue.

9.) Florence, Italy: Tiempo Israelitico, completed in 1882 exhibits a strong Oriental influence in architectural style. The domes, turrets, arches and extravagant detailing are derived from Byzantine, Islamic and Spanish-Moorish sources. The Synagogue’s basic plan was inspired by the famous Santa Sofia in Istanbul, and its’ impressive dome stands out prominently even in Florence.

This very special and unique Hannuka was created in loving memory of the many diverse Jewish communities which existed in Europe prior to World War II. Although several of the synagogues still exist today, the communities which once flourished within them for the most part no longer do, but the contributions of these communities to world Jewry today shall never be forgotten.

The Synagoesgues are listed from left to right. I added some links to the text to connect you to some pictures (if they exist) and some more information.

I fully intended to share with y’all pictures for each night of Hanukkah, but I was sandbagged by a nasty case of strep and I had to go on hiatus. I will post the pictures later with a few more stories of our adventures.